The New York Times' Rachel Abrams reports on claims that Ark Floors, a California-based importer of Chinese wood products, has been accused of selling wood with high levels of formaldehyde--and the accuser is the same hedge fund manager who initially blew the whistle on Lumber Liquidators earlier this year.
Lumber Liquidators, a much bigger firm than Ark, is still struggling to recover from the scandal that erupted after a "60 Minutes" investigative report, as its stock has dropped 70% ever since.
But the latest report highlights the federal government's stalled efforts in regulating the amount of formaldehyde--a carcinogen--in building products. Currently, there is no national rule from the EPA on the issue:
“It’s really disturbing to me that the E.P.A. hasn’t gotten the rule out by now,” said Tom Neltner, the chemicals policy director for the Environmental Defense Fund. “Consumers shouldn’t have to worry about, ‘Is this good wood or bad wood?’ ”
The test results of five different kinds of laminate sold by Ark show levels of formaldehyde "well above" the standards set by the California Air Resources Board, according to Josh Hosen, senior manager of certification programs at HPVA Laboratories.
Whitney Tilson, the hedge fund manager who runs Kase Capital Management, hired HPVA to run the same tests on Ark’s products that the lab had done on Lumber Liquidators’ products.
Representatives from Ark did not respond to requests for comment. A spokeswoman for A&W Woods, Ark’s Chinese supplier, told a reporter to call back in a week. When pressed, she said: “I don’t care. Go ask the operator to find you someone else then. Do you understand me?” Then she hung up.